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Reform Magazine | May 27, 2024

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The Pastoral Rule - Reform Magazine

The Pastoral Rule

Lisa Moore Wilson rediscovers how to stop stress beating ministry, the medieval way

As my faith journey progresses, I have observed with concern the number of ministers, elders and volunteers who quite frankly seem absolutely worn out. Wondering how our faith might support us in such challenging circumstances and drawing on the work of theologians past and present, resulted in a somewhat grandly titled dissertation: ‘Can practices rooted in Christian mysticism contribute to the wellbeing of those in servant leadership in the Reformed tradition?’

Servant leadership (that is, leaders motivated by serving others) is a relatively new area of research with clear parallels in Christian ministry. Surprisingly for a 21st-century feminist theologian, my research began with The Book of Pastoral Rule (Liber Regulae Pastoralis) written by Pope Gregory I in the sixth century. I was quickly captivated by this seminal work advocating a balanced approach to ministry. In a dilemma that still resonates today, Gregory was constantly pulled between the monastery and the demands for his considerable administrative and political skills. As Pope, he became responsible for the city of Rome and the Church in a society devastated by conflict, famine, plague, destitution and depopulation. Some of these challenges may sound familiar!…

Lisa Moore Wilson is training for ministry at Westminster College and on placement in Northumberland

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This is an extract from an article published in the May 2022 edition of Reform

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